The last chapter of the Bible contains a most solemn warning:
Nothing can be more solemn or searching than this Scripture. We are assured that every addition to God’s word is at the same time a taking away from it. Every addition must be a tampering with God’s revealed word, and therefore to its detriment. What has Roman Catholicism to say to this?
SCRIPTURE AND TRADITION
Hear what an accredited Roman Catholic author writes:
One stands aghast on the threshold of our enquiry at such a statement as this. The latter extract puts Romish Tradition on a level with the Word of God. The former extract, indeed, puts Tradition on a higher level than the Word of God, for it states that only by Tradition can we know that the Bible is inspired.
If the Papists were right in saying that the Roman Catholic Church is the only divinely authorised exponent of the Scriptures, then all questionings would be settled. But is it so? The Council of Trent (1545-1563) decreed that:
It then proceeded to anathematise any who would dare to read the Scriptures for themselves. Such were to be denounced by the ordinaries and punished according to law. It shows how little these things were really held in estimation, even by their own promulgators, that Cardinal Hosius, who was appointed president of the said Council of Trent, declared in one of his polemical writings, that were it not for the authority of the Church, the Scriptures would have no more weight with him than the fables of Æosop. Bailly, the Jesuit, was no better, when he declared that without the authority of the Church, he would believe St. Matthew no more than he would believe Titus Livius.
Rome accepts the Apocrypha, thus polluting the purity of God’s Holy Word. This was settled by the Council of Trent. We read:
We are told that not one of the bishops at the Council of Trent knew Hebrew, and only a few Greek. And yet this incompetent body of men decreed that the Apocrypha was to be received as on an equality with the Scriptures upon pain of anathema.
And as to Tradition, Abbe Migne made a compilation of the decrees of councils and writings of the decrees of councils and writings of the ancients in 220 thick volumes, and called it “The Catholic Tradition.”
Tradition is indeed mountainous. We read:
The question may well be asked, Are these mountains of chaff to be dug through before Christ can be found? None but knaves and fools could pretend to think so.
We all know the taunt of the Traditionalist devotee: “Where was your Church before Martin Luther?” And what is the answer? The Scriptures were in existence before there was any Church of Rome. The Church of God is older than the Church of Rome. The Church of Rome contains very many members who are not members of the Church of God. The Church of God was founded on the Day of Pentecost, and consists of every true believer on the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord and who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. The answer to the question, ‘Where was your Church before Martin Luther?’ is answered by the retort, ‘Where was your face before it was washed?’ Evidently the Church’s face badly needed washing when the Reformation arrived and the face of the Church was washed by that wonderful movement of the Spirit of God. The Church existed before the washing and goes back without a break before the Romish church existed at all.
If we reject the utterly foolish claim of Romish Tradition as being our warrant for believing the Scriptures to be the Word of God, on what then do we base our belief? Our answer is that the Bible claims inspiration for itself. We read:
Out of twenty-seven chapters in the Book of Leviticus no less than twenty chapters begin with the words, “And the Lord spake unto Moses,” a very full-claiming of inspiration surely. Nay, more, our Lord often quoted from the Old Testament, the only Scriptures at that time, as being authoritative and the inspired word of God. Our Lord freely quoted from the Books of Moses, the Psalms and the Prophets. The New Testament freely quotes, too, from the Old Testament as inspired. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, all quote the Old Testament as inspired.
Millions of Christians all down the centuries, of all classes and nationalities, can claim that the Word of God has been living and powerful in their cases. It was used to their being convicted of sin, and to their being led to trust the Saviour, and when they trusted Him they found the inward peace and joy that God alone can give. The Word of God proves itself. God has watched over it, used servant after servant in the writing of it, infused it with His own Spirit throughout, watched over it, guarded it from daring hands that would fain destroy it. We can but throw out these fragmentary thoughts on the subject, and continue with our examination.
At the very outset of our enquiry Roman Catholicism stands condemned in setting up a tribunal, claimed by them to be superior to the Word of the living God. Knowing this, it is not surprising that …
ROMAN CATHOLICISM DISCOURAGES THE READING OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
Of course Roman Catholicism can point to certain of their writings where the reading of the Scriptures is enjoined. If these statements were carried into effect, all would be well. But of what use are these statements, if their practice is the exact opposite of it?
Listen to the 4th rule of the congregation of “The Index of Prohibited books,” approved of by Pope Pius IV and still in force:
This does not look like encouraging the reading of the Scriptures. Roman Catholicism takes away with one hand what she offers with the other. Is this honest? Here is a book given to us by God Himself, containing the message of salvation to a world of sinners, a Book telling us about the precious blood of Christ cleansing from all sin, and yet a Romanist, to have it in his possession without the written permission of the Church, is guilty of very serious crime, so much so that he cannot receive absolution for his sins.
Here is an account of Rome in practice. Father Chiniquy, a well-known Canadian priest, who afterwards was forced to leave the Church of Rome for conscience sake, narrates how, when he was a child, a priest, the Revd. Mr. Courtois, visited his father. Addressing him, the priest said:
How different is the atmosphere of Scripture! We read from that Book:
How beautiful is the case of the youthful Timothy. The Apostle Paul wrote approvingly of him:
Not only Timothy, but also his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are spoken of as having “unfeigned faith.” One can well imagine these godly women encouraging the child Timothy to read the Scriptures. The Apostle rejoiced that he had had free access to them.
There is a particularly beautiful verse in the Bible:
The solicitude that not only all the congregation should hear, but also that “the little ones” and the “strangers” should participate in the communications that God had for them is very beautiful, and stands in vivid contrast to the Roman Catholic’s attitude to the Bible.
The writer has known of full-grown men, who had never read a Bible till the grace of God reached them in saving power, and delivered them from priestly tyranny, which would cruelly withhold from them the Word of God.
The following is strange reading:
The writer endeavoured recently to secure a copy of the Douay Bible in the large and well-appointed Book Depository of the Catholic Truth Society in a capital city, and they had not a single copy on sale.
There is nothing that the Roman Catholics dread so much as the people having free access to the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue; that is, in their own language. In contrast to the many editions of the Scriptures published in Great Britain and U.S.A., Roman Catholicism has shown its reluctance to circulate the Scriptures by only producing, so far as we know, one Bible in the English tongue, viz., the Douay Bible, the New Testament published in Rheims in 1582, the Old Testament in Douay in 1609. Seeing Gutenberg invented cut metal types for printing about 1450, and Caxton set up the first printing press in England in 1470, one cannot think that the Roman Catholics were anything but reluctant to circulate the Bible in the language of the people, when they allowed a century or more to elapse before they did so, and then hedged it about with limitations that were tantamount to the withholding of the precious word of God.
How much more so when the word of the living God is withheld. Since 1816 four pontiffs in succession have stated to the world that by the reading of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue, “the very foundations of their religion are undermined.” With this we can most heartily agree. It does indeed undermine false Romish religion whilst establishing the true faith of Christ.
WAS THE CHURCH FOUNDED ON ST.PETER?
It is the proud boast of Roman Catholicism that the Church of God is founded on St. Peter, and that there is no salvation outside of it. We read:
Place this beside Scripture and it will be seen how utterly false this claim is, what an insult it is to the blessed Son of God; what a shameless perversion of the very letter of Scripture. There must be many erudite Greek scholars in the Church of Rome, who must know that Scripture does not support this claim.
The Scripture says:
It is plain that the Church is built upon petra, and not upon petros. The words are plain and simple and incapable of any other meaning. A reliable Greek dictionary gives the following meanings of these words:
PETROS, a piece of rock, a stone PETRA, a rock, a crag
A stone is not a rock, but a piece of rock.
We can build on a rock, but not on a stone.
A reliable English dictionary gives the following meanings:
STONE, a large mass of earthy or mineral
ROCK, a large mass of stone matter;
the hard material out of which the rock consists
Scripture itself gives us the meaning of Peter’s new name:
It is very singular that the word petros only occurs in this passage, John 1:42, other than being enshrined many times in the name, Peter. On the contrary, the word for rock, Greek petra, occurs fifteen times. It is used of the rock on which a man builded his house (Matt. 7:24), he would surely not build his house on a stone; of the rocks rending, when our Lord died (Matt. 27:51); of “The rock of offence,” clearly Christ Himself (Rom. 9:33); and of hiding in the rocks of the mountains (Rev. 6:15), not hiding in the stones of the mountains but in caves, etc.
It will be seen how ridiculous it would be to use the word petros, a stone, and not petra, a rock, in these instances. The use of the word Cephas, meaning rock-man, is interesting, as showing that Peter was not the rock, but a rock-MAN, as being one built into the one and only foundation, Jesus Christ Himself.
St. Augustine in his day stressed clearly the difference between Petros and petra, expounding as follows:
So this early Father contradicts the fantastic claim of Rome.
It is upon petra, the great rock foundation that Christ builds His Church, not upon Peter, for Peter was a stone built into the foundation in common with ALL believers from that day to this.
One verse of Scripture for ever shatters Rome’s claim that the Church is built upon Peter. We read:
The Church is clearly founded on Jesus Christ, whom Peter confessed in the ever-memorable words,
Every believer truly making this confession along with Peter is built on THE ONE AND ONLY FOUNDATION, JESUS CHRIST.
In a secondary sense the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, but Scripture takes care to emphasise who has the pre-eminence,
But remark that it is not only Peter who is the foundation here, but ALL the apostles and prophets. They lay the foundation in their labours for Christ whether orally or by the inspired writings, but the foundation on which they build is the only foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ. That Peter makes no claim to be the foundation on which Christ builds His Church is clearly seen. He writes of the Lord Jesus:
Please note that Peter came to the living stone, and here he tells believers, that they also are living stones, and are built up a spiritual house, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone.
We have always thought that the Romish Church was very unfortunate in its choice of Peter. First he was the one Apostle who denied his Lord with oaths and cursing, saying, “I know not the man.” Then in the very same chapter in which our Lord said to Peter that on this rock He would build His Church, we have the record of our Lord saying to him,
We remember a striking incident of an open-air preacher, well known to the writer, a converted Roman Catholic, being heckled by a Roman Catholic hearer. The heckler asked with a great air of triumph, as if he would completely floor the speaker, “What did our Lord say to St. Peter?” meaning that the Church was founded on Peter. Swiftly and crushingly came the answer, “Our Lord said to St. Peter, ‘Get thee behind Me, Satan,’” leaving the heckler a sadder, if not a wiser man.
Then again, Peter was the only Apostle of whom we have the record that he had a wife. This is unfortunate, seeing that wives are denied to his supposed successors, as the Popes claim to be. The Epistle to the Galatians cannot be pleasant reading to Roman Catholics, for in it we find the record of the Apostle Paul withstanding Peter to the face because of his cowardice and dissembling (see Gal. 2:11-12).
Peter, too, is described as the Apostle of the Circumcision, showing that his mission was to labour among the Jews, just as Paul’s commission was to labour among the Gentiles. We might well ask, Why should an Apostle, holding a much higher office than that of a bishop, descend to be a mere bishop; why one, with a world-wide commission—for the Jews were well scattered—should tie himself up to a single city for a quarter of a century?
We would like to make one or two further remarks about the statement we have quoted above from The Catholic Faith.
Let it be carefully noted, the power of binding and loosing on earth was not confined to Peter ALONE. We learn from Luke 24:33 that on the first resurrection morning, when our Lord entered the room, the doors being shut for fear of the Jews, he found “the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,” showing clearly there were more than the Apostles present. Of that company we read:
Further we have our Lord’s own words addressed not to Peter, nor to the eleven, but to the WHOLE Church in its local responsibility:
No wonder Rome is afraid of its adherents reading the Scriptures, seeing how far removed from its teaching are the dogmas of the papacy.
WAS THE APOSTLE PETER EVER IN ROME?
If there were any historical evidence that Peter ever was in Rome, as we have clear evidence that Paul was in Rome, and martyred there, it certainly would have been forthcoming. The following from the pen of a Roman Catholic author is feeble in the extreme. We read:
What a strange inference (if it deserves such a name), that Peter must have been a Bishop somewhere, and as this somewhere is not stated, then he must have been Bishop of Rome. This reasoning is in a circle and lands the writer nowhere. A more weak, vapid, feeble attempt to establish an assertion on nothing we have never seen.
We have however enough Bible testimony to prove that it is extremely unlikely that Peter was ever in Rome.
The Apostle Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans about the year A.D. 60. According to the Romanists, Peter was then Bishop of Rome. Is it not passing strange that in that epistle to the saints at Rome, while Paul sends his salutations to no less than twenty-six of the saints by name in addition to the Church that met in the house of Priscilla and Aquila, the members of the household of Aristobulus, and of Narcissus, besides other companies noted in Romans 16:14-15, yet he sends no greeting to Peter, who must have been the most prominent of all the saints at Rome, if he were then Bishop of Rome?
The late Sir Robert Anderson with the keen mind of a trained lawyer, well qualified to weigh up evidence, wrote:
Bearing on the subject in hand, the following extract from the author of Catholic Belief will show how far credulity can go:
Would it be likely that Paul would have written to Timothy; and not have mentioned that Peter was a fellow prisoner? How could he have written, “Only Luke is with me?” (2 Tim. 4:11), if Peter had been in Rome at that time? Paul did express a wish that Timothy should show diligence to come to him, but not a single syllable is there that he wished him to witness his martyrdom. This is a sample of making history where there is none. It bears its own refutation on the face of it.
There is an attempt made to prove that Peter was Bishop of Rome by quoting the Scripture:
They assert that Babylon was a cryptic allusion to Rome, indeed, in the Douay Bible they go as far as to put a note against this verse, “Figurative Rome.” But this is a very unfortunate claim, for Babylon, as standing symbolically for Rome, is described in the following strong denunciatory language, as we shall see later:
As a matter of historical fact, there was a Roman colony in Egypt, named Babylon, not far from Cairo, where today impressive remains can be seen, proving that in the early centuries there had been a large and prosperous Christian community, and it is believed by some that this is the place the Apostle wrote from.
HOLY BAPTISM AND CONFIRMATION
The author of Catholic Belief writes:
There is no mistaking what Romanists teach as to Baptism. They found this dogma on a misconception of the Scripture just quoted in the extract given. That the ‘water’ in John 3:5 cannot be the literal water of baptism is proved under two heads. Firstly, there was no such thing as Christian baptism when our Lord uttered these words. There was John’s baptism unto repentance, but Christian baptism is “unto the death of Christ,” and in view of His resurrection, and that could not be till our Lord died and rose again. (See Romans 6:1-5 in proof of this statement). Secondly, Scripture itself explains what is meant by the word “water.” We read:
It is very good to have the explanation given by Scripture itself. This is confirmed by the following Scriptures. The Apostle John writes of being “born of water and of the Spirit.” (John 3:5). The Apostle Peter writes, too, of the new birth, but using the simile of “seed” and not of “water.” We read:
The Apostle James, also, writes of the new birth:
Now if “water” is literal water in one passage, “seed” should be literal seed also. But of this the Romanists make no claim. Why? But when all three Scriptures speak of the new birth, and two out of the three attribute new birth to the power of the Holy Spirit by the agency of the word of God, we are assured that “water” stands for the word of God, especially when we have the support of Ephesians 5:26, which puts “the washing of water” and the “word” together, saying “washing of water BY THE WORD.”
How sad is this extract from the Catholic author. He takes away with one hand what he professes to give with the other. The baptised infant is made, according to them, a child of God, but when it grows up he is not a child of God unless professing the principal Articles of Faith, such as transubstantiation, the mass, purgatory, confessional, supremacy of the Pope, etc., etc. The extract just given is sad enough reading, for it does not say a word about believing on Christ. The Apostle Paul did not say to the Philippian jailor that he should believe the principal Articles of Faith, but:
The Apostle Peter, whose word should, above all others be believed by Roman Catholics, wrote:
A great many rites are added to this simple act of baptism, making the whole affair ridiculous, such as muttering prayers over the child to exorcise the devil, putting salt in its mouth, making the sign of the cross on forehead, eye, breast, shoulder and ear, the anointing of the child with the oil of catechumens on the breast that it may receive the Holy Spirit, the anointing of the head, signifying that the child is engrafted into Christ, etc., etc. Where do they get Scripture for all this superstitious mummery? Not a line of Scripture is there for these observances.
The writer once saw a baptism carried out in a little country church in a continental village. The priest actually opened and spat into the infant’s mouth to bestow the Holy Ghost upon it, as he claimed.
The author of Catholic Belief writes:
Confirmation, as claimed by the Church of Rome, is a rite, which has no counterpart in the Scriptures. There is not a line in the whole Word of God to support the idea of the one to be confirmed receiving the Holy Spirit with the chrism, nor of the Bishop slapping the one to be confirmed on the cheek, signifying that as a soldier of the cross he must be prepared to endure hardness, nor of the Bishop kissing him, signifying the impartation of “the peace that passes all understanding.”
And what has been the result in the lives of these baptised and confirmed adherents of the Romish Church? We have often seen them emerging from their chapels in Ireland and other places, and have been struck with the oppressed look on their faces, as if their religion was not a happy one. We have marked the furtive look that characterised them, the poverty that marked them; and inside their chapels the tawdry images, the tinsel, the confessional boxes were far removed from the Spirit of our Lord. In many an Irish small town you can find poverty alongside priests’ handsome houses, and dominating chapels in the midst of dirt and squalor. The worshippers in the chapels fill the public houses, and exhibit no trace of being valiant soldiers of Jesus Christ, fighting the world, the flesh and the devil. Such is Rome. An empty shell without a kernel. It reminds us of our Lord’s scathing charge against the Pharisees:
THE ROMISH DOGMA OF TRANSUBSTANTIATION
The author of Catholic Belief states:
Here we put our finger on the high-water mark of superstitious idolatry, the like of which is not surpassed by pagan rites. Well might Cardinal Manning say:
Cardinal Newman expressed a similar idea:
With these sentiments we fully agree, though we have come to the exactly opposite conclusion to what these princes of the Church, alas! arrived at. If Transubstantiation is true, it is a most terribly solemn tiring to be outside the pale of the true Church. If it is false, this dogma makes the Church of Rome the very seat of Satan, and should be avoided at the peril of our souls.
Nor was Transubstantiation known in the apostolic era, when of all times they should have known it. Not till the 8th/9th centuries was Transubstantiation taught in Romish circles. The simple blessed remembrance of our Lord with bread and wine, the said bread and wine remaining unchanged, was celebrated by the Church in the apostolic era. Gradually, alas! this simplicity was corrupted more and more till full-blown Transubstantiation arrived.
The Apostle Paul knew nothing of this Romish dogma. We read:
Did Paul believe that the bread and wine were changed into the body and blood of the Lord, though he did reproduce in his epistle our Lord’s own words, “This is My body”?
It is plain he did not, for in verses 26 and 27 he refers to the Corinthian believers partaking of the Lord’s supper, after “the consecration of the elements,” as the Romanists would say. Twice over he says “Ye eat this bread and drink this cup,” and not “Ye eat His body and drink His blood,” as the Romanists would have us to say. It is very plain the Apostle Paul did not believe in Transubstantiation, and we prefer to believe what he taught rather than the superstition of Rome.
“THIS bread,” and “THIS cup” clearly means that the elements were unchanged, and that our Lord used the words, “THIS is My body; THIS is My blood” symbolically. Take the words of our Lord literally,
This stands in full harmony with what our Lord said at the Supper Table. We read:
But what follows? In the very next verse, AFTER our Lord had given thanks for the bread and wine, we read our Saviour’s own words:
It is perfectly plain that our Lord, who had blessed and given thanks for the cup, recognised that its contents were unchanged, that it was the fruit of the vine when He blessed it, and that it remained the fruit of the vine after He had blessed it. The wine was unchanged.
The Author of Catholic Belief makes a very strange remark. Writing of the Lord’s Supper and the first miracle of Transubstantiation, as they falsely claim it to be, he writes:
We write most reluctantly and with utmost reverence. When our Lord said, “THIS is My body,” “THIS is My blood,” He was alive with the living flesh of a living man clothing His sacred body, and the blood of a living man coursing through His veins. Yet this Author teaches that our living Lord on the Passover night, held His dead flesh and shed blood in His hands. We can only characterise this as pure blasphemy without a tittle of Scripture to give the slightest semblance to it, manifesting the utmost confusion of thought.
The Romanists point to the following Scripture in support of this terrible blasphemy:
We have two things to say as to this verse. (1) Our Lord was alive when He said it, so the eating and drinking could not be literal. (2) When He spoke these words the Lord’s Supper was not yet instituted, and therefore at that moment it could not refer to it. The words were symbolic of what? Eating and drinking are the two most thorough ways of appropriating. For instance we might find a wallet on the street, and of course would pick it up. We appropriate it. But not for long. Someone runs after us and asks with anxiety, Have you picked up a wallet in the street? The wallet is returned to the owner. But who can take from us the food and drink we partook of yesterday? Not all the Acts of Parliament, not all the emetics ministered by doctors or chemists, not all the clever operations of the skilled surgeons, could take from us this food. It has been appropriated, gone into the system to build it up in all its parts. It has become part of us. So with this mystic eating and drinking. The Lord was alive upon the earth. His death had not taken place, but He told His disciples of His coming death, and that death being for their life and blessing. He showed how appropriating this death in all its personal meaning and power was the only way of life for them.
Jeremiah of old wrote:
Even the Romanists, one would think, could scarcely take these words literally, but as symbolically indicating the appropriation of the very words of Jehovah, so that they become spiritual food and blessing to the soul. Thus it is with eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man.
Nor does this exhaust the tale of Rome’s ignorant and terrible sacrilege. Not only does Rome claim that the bread and the wine become the very body and blood our Lord; that is, it becomes a “whole Christ,” but that it is a propitiatory offering to God. The Council of Trent (Session 22) states:
This is in complete opposition to Scripture. It denies that the Lord Jesus completed the work of atonement on the cross once and for all. We read:
Will the Romanists refuse to listen to Peter? Will they believe their corrupt and blasphemous tradition rather than the pure word of God?
The Apostle Peter writes as clearly and decisively as the Scriptures just quoted.
Finally our Lord uttered these words on the cross in a loud voice,
God Himself in high heaven answered that cry by rending the veil of the Temple in twain from the top to the bottom, the very earth quaked and the rocks were rent, and the graves opened and the bodies of the saints that slept arose—all testifying that Divine righteousness was once and for all infinitely and divinely satisfied by our Lord’s grand propitiatory sacrifice on the cross, never to be repeated, but to stand in all its complete efficacy for ever. What sacrilege for Romish priests to dare to say, when they pronounce the words at the celebration of the mass, Hoc est enim corpus meum (“This is My body”), that they are offering, a propitiatory sacrifice, and anathematise and curse all who do not acknowledge this. Furthermore they are not consistent. With one breath they tell us that the wine at the Lord’s Supper is turned into the blood of our Lord, and yet on the other hand tell us it is “a bloodless sacrifice.” We can only say the holy synod is crassly ignorant of Holy Scripture, which says emphatically:
Where then is their bloodless propitiatory sacrifice?
Finally the very peak of superstitious mummery is reached when the priest holds up the Host, a piece of dough baked into a wafer, oftentimes made by the priest’s little servant maid in the kitchen of the presbytery, on which are engraved a cross and the following letters:
Can anything exceed this in gross and blasphemous superstition? Doubtless many of the priests do not inwardly believe what they outwardly profess; and many totally unchristian priests, often leading immoral and drunken lives, as can be proved up to the hilt by many testimonies, are devoid of any pretence of believing in this mummery.
ROMANISTS WITHHOLD THE CUP OF THE LORD’S SUPPER FROM THE LAITY
The Council of Trent (Session 21; Canon I, 20) states:
In withholding the cup, said by Romanists to contain the very blood of the Lord, they withhold what is according to them, essential for salvation.
Dr. Wylie testifies to what he has seen repeatedly:
Does it not show that the Romanists do not believe in their own dogmas, for if the words they quote in support of the mass, that without eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man, there is no Divine life whatsoever, are correctly used by them, then to withhold the bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper, turned, as they falsely claim, into the body and blood of the Lord, would mean that they heartlessly place their adherents clean outside the pale of salvation altogether.
We can thank God that Rome’s anathema is thunder without lightning. It can affright but it cannot kill. Bunyan, in his wonderful Pilgrim’s Progress, aptly described the situation. Giant Pope could make horrible grimaces, but had no further power.
MASSES FOR THE DEAD BRING IMMENSE SUMS INTO ROME’S COFFERS
It is the Roman custom to say masses for the dead and to charge a fee, regulated by the position and ability of the relatives to pay. We quote a testimony to the wickedness of this unholy traffic:
Whether it be indulgences, purgatory, dispensations, etc., the cry is for money, money, money, and this from the professed followers of the Apostle Peter, who said:
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DOGMA OF PURGATORY
Why should there be an urge to cause people to pay for masses to be said for their dead relatives? The answer lies in the Romish invention of purgatory.
And on what Scriptures does Rome found this claim? Here is one:
They argue that if sins cannot be forgiven in Hell—and there are no sins to be forgiven in Heaven—there must be a third place where people can be purified from their sins, and that must be purgatory. But suppose an American subject were tried for some serious offence in Britain, and the judge addressed him, saying that the crime was so serious that it could not be forgiven in Britain, nor yet in America. It would be nonsensical to argue from the judge’s remark that there must be a third place where it might be forgiven. But not more nonsensical than this argument about purgatory.
Another passage the Romanists use for this purpose:
How can this Scripture teach the meaning of a third place in addition to Heaven and Hell? Purgatory, according to Romanists, is a place of literal fire, of exquisite tortures, where screams and shrieks fill the air, fit to rend the hearts of living relatives, inducing them to find money to help a greedy priesthood to procure imaginary relief from an imaginary purgatory.
It is plain that one Scripture cannot contradict another, and here we have a Scripture in the Saviour’s own words, prefaced by His strong asseveration of a double “Verily,” that believers will never, never come into judgment.
And yet the Romanists have the audacity to affirm that saints will come into judgment, and with these saints they include the very popes of Rome. Whose word shall stand, the Romanists’ or the Lord’s verily, verily?
Again we read:
Does this look like purgatory? Does this not mean what it says, that believers are sanctified once and for all and for ever through the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
If subject to Scripture, how can we believe that any one, whose sins have been cleansed away by the precious blood of Christ, will need to be purified from them by the flames of purgatory?
The idea of purgatory, penance, prayers for the dead, date no earlier than the 7th century, and were not positively affirmed till 1140.
And yet a Roman Catholic writer says:
Is it honest to say these Fathers well knew the dogma of purgatory centuries before it was first promulgated? However, we thank these fathers for saying that “wood, hay, stubble,” do not stand for actual wood, hay, stubble, but are to be understood symbolically. Why are they not consistent in affirming that the “fire” is likewise symbolic, setting forth God’s discriminating judgment in condemning all that is not of His Holy Spirit in the lives of believers? We have seen crude and repulsive pictures, depicting souls in the flames of purgatory in Romish churches.
Note in the text, it is every man’s work shall be made manifest, his work tried, but there is no hint that his person comes into judgment, for that would contradict John 5:24 and Hebrews 10:10. Our Lord said emphatically that the believer will never come into judgment. And he never will, of that there is no shadow of doubt.
But all the works of believers will be assessed as good or bad. If good, the product of the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, they will meet with a reward. If bad, the product of the working of the flesh, they will meet with loss. The believer will be saved, yet so as by fire, the “fire,” symbolic language, meaning that just as literal fire burns literal wood, hay, stubble, so the judgment seat of Christ will set aside once and for ever everything that is reprehensible in the life of the believer. But this passage gives no hint of a third place in addition to Heaven and Hell.
The writer remembers an aged German putting into his hand a box of bank notes. If they could have been negotiated at their face value he would have been a multimillionaire over and over again, and his wealth would have reached astronomical figures, but they were perfectly worthless. The inflation after the Great War (1914-1918) had completely destroyed their value. He suffered loss. So shall believers suffer loss if they give license to the flesh in any shape or form.
Perhaps the most shameful record of the money-making traffic in indulgences is that of Father Tetzel, of Germany, who toured that country carrying with him a large iron box in which to contain the money entrusted to him for the release of souls from purgatory.
That great man, Martin Luther, opposed him to good purpose, exposing the scandal of his proceedings.
These notorious sales of indulgences were blessed by the Pope. No wonder the Reformation took place!
Indulgences are connected with medals, scapularies, rosaries and crucifixes. Pope Adrian IV granted a bull of indulgence to certain beads, which he blessed. This bull was afterwards confirmed by Popes Gregory XIII, Clement VIII, Urban VIII in the following terms:
The spectacle of eminent Popes blessing beads is a puerile sight indeed.
THE PRIEST, THE CONFESSIONAL, AND PENANCE
A usual sight in a Roman Catholic Church is the confessional box. It is so constructed that the priest has full view of the penitent, whilst the penitent cannot see the priest, who hears the confession. On the box is clearly marked the name of “Father” So-and-so, and yet Scripture clearly says:
This clearly cannot refer to our father in the flesh, for Scripture is very insistent that all respect should be paid to one’s earthly father and mother. It most clearly refers to calling anyone on earth “father” in a spiritual sense, standing in contrast to the Father in Heaven. To call anyone “father” in a religious sense is an insult to the great Father in Heaven. But the Roman priesthood sets aside this prohibition. That theirs is a religious fatherhood is clearly manifest, for they are celibate. By the laws of their Church they are not allowed to marry.
In support of the practice of confession, a Roman Catholic author cites two Scriptures:
The first passage surely means that we should confess our sins to God. For this we need no earthly mediator, no human priest. As to the latter passage, it clearly means that if we sin against any person our duty is to confess our wrong-doing to the person we have wronged and seek his forgiveness. Out of these simple verses Rome has built up a great system, a money-making affair, which fastens upon its dupes a priestly domination, totally foreign to Scripture.
To back up this pretension, the translator or translators of the Douay Bible have altered the word “repentance” to “penance” in a good many instances. This tampering with the very letter of Scripture is made worse by the addition of man-made notes, seeking to support what has been so daringly done. The word “repentance,” as given in the Bible, is represented by the Greek word, metanoeō, meaning to have “another mind.” It does not mean to change one’s mind as to some particular point, but the whole change of a man’s mind brought about by the sense of sinfulness, and therefore of being out of touch with God, and altering his whole attitude in this respect.
To show the difference between this and the wholesome repentance Scripture inculcates, we give here a sample of the foolish and degrading penance a priest may impose on a penitent:
Can anyone imagine the Apostles Paul, Peter and John setting any penitent to such a senseless and degrading task?
Father Chiniquy likewise gives his testimony as to the evil of auricular confession:
“For I do not exaggerate when I say that for many noble-hearted women, well-educated, high-minded women to be forced to unveil their hearts before the eyes of a man, to open to him all the most secret recesses of their souls, all the most sacred mysteries of their single or married life, to allow him to put questions which the most depraved woman would never consent to hear from her vilest seducer, is often more horrible and intolerable than to be tied to burning coals. More than once I have seen women fainting in the confessional-box. Not hundreds, but thousands of times. I have heard from the lips of dying girls, as well as married women, the awful words, ‘I am for ever lost! All my past confessions and communions have been so many sacrileges! I have never dared to answer correctly the questions of my confessors! Shame has sealed my lips and damned my soul” (Fifty years in the Church of Rome, p. 402).
Again we read:
Suffice it to say that such testimony to the evils of auricular confessions could easily be multiplied. It is well known that Roman Catholic priests are instructed to ask a number of searching questions on sex matters that introduce to the young and innocent thoughts that pollute their minds, and often acquaint them with the knowledge of sins they had no conception of, till the time of their first confession, doing them irreparable harm for life.
Well does Dr. Wylie say:
IMAGES, ROSARIES, RELICS
The Scriptures sternly forbid idolatry, and because of idolatry Israel was punished again and again, and allowed to go under the yoke of the oppressor. We read:
At the very time that this Commandment was being given to Moses on Mount Sinai the children of Israel were worshipping the golden calf which Aaron had made. The dire judgment of God followed this idolatry. Moses burnt the golden calf, ground it to powder, strawed it upon water and made the people drink it. Three thousand souls perished that day.
We read of the godly king Hezekiah and how he acted:
There is no trace of image worship being favoured in the New Testament, but we have stern warnings against it. The Apostle Paul wrote:
The Apostle John closes his first epistle with solemn words:
Yet the cathedrals and churches of Rome are filled with images, and their adherents are encouraged to pay them homage, pray to them, and give them votive offerings. Idolatry is encouraged and practised, and Rome will have to answer for this to an offended God.
The rosary consists of a string of beads, a mere mechanical device for saying prayers. It is of heathen origin. In Asiatic Greece the rosary was commonly used, as was seen with the image of the Ephesian Diana.
The Rev. Mr. Hyslop writes:
Well did our Lord give warning:
As to relics, the following list garnered from The Hammersmith Protestant Discussion, p. 599, will carry its own condemnation. The list exhibits superstition, credulity to a boundless extent, a childishness that could only be found in backward races:
It is said that there are enough pieces of wood, claimed to be once part of the cross of our Lord, to build a fair-sized vessel, and that there are more heads of St. Peter than one or two.
Would that some might get their eyes open as they read such things, so opposite to the Scriptures, and even to common sense.
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
It is a dogma of the Church of Rome that the Virgin Mary was miraculously born without a taint of sin, that original sin, the sinful nature common to all of Adam’s race, was entirely wanting in her by an act of Divine grace, that her humanity was as pure and sinless as that of her Divine Son.
Since the 12th century Rome has leant to this idea, but not till the 19th century was it officially promulgated. On 8th December, 1853, Pope Pius IX promulgated a bull, declaring this dogma to be an article of faith, and charging with heresy those who should doubt or speak against it. If it were true when the Virgin was born, why did it take over eighteen hundred years to find it out?
But one verse of Scripture settles the point, and that the inspired record of what the Virgin Mary herself said in the joy of her heart, when the news of the high honour of becoming the mother of our Lord according to the flesh was brought to her. She exclaimed in great exultation:
Now if the Virgin, “blessed among women,” had a Saviour, she must have needed a Saviour. And if she needed a Saviour, she must have been a sinner, like every member of the fallen human race.
To be consistent, if Romanists believe the Virgin was sinless, then death could not have been her portion, for “the wages of sin is death.” So they claim that she miraculously ascended to Heaven without dying on the 15th August, A.D. 45. There is not a single line of Scripture for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, nor for her translation to Heaven without dying.
All the Pauline epistles were written well after A.D. 45, but there is no mention of these notions. The Gospel of John was written long after the Pauline epistles, moreover it was to the Apostle John our Lord tenderly committed His mother according to the flesh, and yet he never said a word about the immaculate conception, or the miraculous flight to Heaven without dying.
The whole thing is a pure invention with the object of leading Roman Catholics to the idolatrous worship of the mother of our Lord according to the flesh. We shall see to what lengths Rome can go in this direction.
MARIOLATRY, OR THE WORSHIP OF THE VIRGIN MARY
Romanists tell us this is hyperdulia, that is, worship of a very high order, but short of Latria, worship to God alone, but higher than Dulia, a lower sort of worship accorded to saints and angels. But worship is sternly forbidden to all but God alone. The worshipping of angels is forbidden, the intruding into those things we have not seen (See Col. 2:18).
When the Apostle John in his Apocalyptic vision fell at the feet of the angel to worship him, we read how he was rebuked:
The following will show the very subtle way the worship of the Virgin Mary is inculcated in the minds of the young. Father Chiniquy puts on record his experience as a child in this direction:
The only adjective at all adequate to characterise this teaching is diabolical. It is horrible to deliberately pollute the minds of the tender and young with such utterly false thoughts of the blessed Saviour, who said when here on earth,
With such teaching in view, Cardinal Manning boasted that, if they had the training of the young when of tender years, they could count upon their adherence to Roman Catholic beliefs all through after-life.
The Saviour has the same tender heart on the throne of God today as when He walked the towns, villages and fields of Palestine. None who came to Him in distress on earth were repulsed, and none who come to Him in Heaven will be repulsed, for He has the same tender heart now as then. To assert that Mary has a more tender heart than our blessed Lord is pure blasphemy.
Alas! Rome worships Mary as she worships Christ. Dr. Wylie says:
Names are bestowed upon her which are an insult to our Saviour, to whom alone some of them belong. Here are some of the names given to her:
Holy Mother of God.
Most Holy Generator of God.
Refuge of sinners.
Gate of Heaven.
Queen of Heaven.
Queen conceived without sin.
Ark of the Covenant.
Queen of Apostles.
Here is an extract from a sermon of St. Bernard, taken from a Breviary of the Church of Rome:
All this is ascribed to a poor fallen creature, most highly honoured surely in being the mother of our Lord according to the flesh, yet a sinner, needing the salvation her Son procured for her by His death of shame upon the cross. Her bones lie mouldering in the grave these eighteen hundred years. All this mariolatry is simply speaking into the air a stream of futile blasphemy. It cannot and does not reach Heaven.
THE WORSHIP OF SAINTS
This is what the Council of Trent teaches, but not a line in Scripture is there to support such an idea. The Author of Catholic Belief says:
In this extract the author displays a serious lack of logic. We do not pray to our Christian friends on earth but we ask them to pray for us, and with us. That is quite right. But our friends in Heaven are beyond our reach of a request to pray for us, and we cannot pray to them. How can they hear our prayers? Are they omnipresent, omniscient? We know that they are not. The difference between asking Christian friends to pray for us and praying to saints in Heaven is very obvious. A child can see it.
In the book we have quoted several times, Catholic Belief, there is given a list of saints who have been canonised by the Church of Rome, and we are told that the list could be multiplied a hundredfold. The list given contains 258 names of saints and mediators. How does this list look beside the Scripture:
Job, speaking of God and himself, in despair of a solution of his troubles, cried out:
Who is great enough to lay his hand upon God in all His supreme holiness, and then upon the wretched sinner, needing pardon and cleansing? None but a Divine person can do that. Jesus was “God manifest in the flesh.” He was and is Divine, the eternal Son in the Unity of the Godhead. And who can lay his hand on the sinful and needy? None but Jesus. The Virgin Mary, the 25,800 canonised saints, cannot put their hand on God as meeting in their persons His claims on a world of sinners, nor can any priest on earth give the pardon of sins. Our Lord, who could put His hand on the loathsome leper and bid the foul disease to depart, who could heal the sick, the blind, the deaf, the lame, who could preach the Gospel to the poor, alone can put His loving hand of pardon and forgiveness on the sinner.
We learn a great lesson by what took place on the Mount of Transfiguration. When Peter saw Moses and Elias he proposed three tabernacles; one for the Lord, one for Moses and one for Elias. He seemed to wish to put the three on an equality. What was the answer, but a gracious rebuke? A bright cloud overshadowed the disciples, and a voice out of the cloud was heard, saying:
The disciples fell on their faces and were sore afraid. Our Lord touched them, and bad them not to be afraid. Then we read:
This surely is a little picture of Heaven. There we shall see, as far as worship is concerned, Jesus ONLY. The Virgin and all the saints that are there will unite with us in seeing Jesus ONLY, as the adored Object of our worship for ever and ever. There will be then, as now, only one Object of worship in Heaven, Jesus ONLY.
It was not till 18th July, 1870, that Rome learned that its Pope was infallible when speaking ex cathedra (Latin, cathedrã seat), which means speaking from the chair or seat, that is the throne in the Consistory, when the ecclesiastical court of cardinals and bishops are officially gathered together. With great pomp this pronouncement was made from the Vatican Council by Pope Pius IX, the 257th occupant of the Papal Chair. If the present pope is infallible, how is it that not all his predecessors were? There was a time when three rival popes claimed the papal chair, and spent their time and energy in cursing each other. That did not look like infallibility.
It is chronicled that this announcement was accompanied by what looked like the stern rebuke of the very elements, for the skies were ominously black with thunder clouds, and the Vatican, where the Consistory was sitting, was lit up with flash after flash of lightning, accompanied by deafening peals of thunder.
It is strange what Scriptures are brought forward to support the dogma of infallibility. We read:
We do not suppose that Catholics, who do not generally read their Bibles, will see how grotesquely inappropriate such a Scripture is in this connection. Peter was about to have a very grievous fall, to deny his Lord with oaths and cursing. The Lord, who foresaw this, told him of His high-priestly prayers for him, that he might not sink under the sorrow of his shame, but be restored, and became useful again to his brethren. There is not a word about infallibility, or the power of handing this on to his successors.
Another Scripture quoted is Matthew 16:18, which we have already seen does not refer to Peter as the rock on which the Church was to be built, but to our Lord Himself. Another Scripture is quoted:
In these simple words addressed to Peter there is nothing about infallibility, or the power to hand it on to successors in the papal chair. As an argument, it is quite beside the mark. Keen minds in the Church of Rome must be aware that all these pretensions are quite foreign to Scripture.
HOW TRADITIONS ACCUMULATED
To note the following dates is enough to explode the pretensions of Rome.
Certainly none of these things were known or practised in the apostolic age. If these things were divinely accredited, the Apostles, who knew our Lord so intimately, would have surely known about them.
ROME CLAIMS TO BE SUPERIOR TO THE CIVIL POWER
The late Cardinal Manning, once an archdeacon in the Church of England, who became a pervert to Rome, gave expression to the following strange claims:
These are proud words, and as hateful and wicked as they are proud. Did the Apostles ever make such claims? How different is the language of the Apostle Peter:
The Apostle Paul is likewise insistent on the same lines:
Evidently Cardinal Manning set these Scriptures at defiance. Can there be any confidence in the loyalty of a man with such sentiments, claiming to be the subject of no prince? A religion that can take such an arrogant stand is a menace to the land in which it operates.
Cardinal Manning, in addressing the English Roman Catholic prelates, said:
Is this the language of a loyal subject of the realm? Is it the language of a follower of Him, who was meek and lowly in heart? Woe betide any land that gets under the heel of Rome.
ROMANISM AND BUDDHISM
It is more than startling to see the close resemblance between that form of Buddhism called Lamaism, prevailing in Tibet and Mongolia, and Romanism. Dr. Rhys Davids thus describes it:
Commenting upon this, Sir Robert Anderson asks the question:
The similarities between the two systems cannot possibly be the result of mere chance. The items are far too numerous to allow of that. They surely show that the same evil power, even of that of Satan, is the instigator of both systems.
ROMANISM AND BABYLONISH PAGANISM
Still more intimately does Romanism spring from Babylonish paganism. We must remember that what pagan Rome practised was derived from Babylon. The Emperor Constantine turned the empire from the idol worship of Babylon to nominal Christianity. The more one looks into such matters, the more one is convinced of the subtlety of Satan, who, finding Christianity taking root, owing to the labours of the Apostles, sought to counteract and destroy it by covering paganism with a thin veneer of Christian terms and doctrines, but paganism still at the bottom.
Sir George Sinclair, Author of Letters to Protestants of Scotland, wrote:
This is the studied opinion of a writer of great ability and industry. The Author of The Two Babylons endorses this opinion. He writes:
The late Revd. Alexander Hyslop’s book is monumental, and exhibits a vast amount of careful research. His facts can be relied upon. He has patiently shown in a most convincing fashion that such items of Romish doctrine as baptismal regeneration, justification by works, penance as a satisfaction of God’s justice, the unbloody sacrifice of the mass, extreme unction, purgatory, prayers for the dead, were all derived from Babylon. It is extraordinary that Rome should claim that Peter’s sending the salutation of the Church at Babylon was a cryptic allusion to Rome. Perhaps there was some truth in this, but it was spiritually, and not geographically.
It is recorded of Linacer, a distinguished physician in the reign of Henry VIII, a bigoted Romanist, that on studying the New Testament for the first time, after a while he tossed the book impatiently from him, and with a great oath exclaimed, “Either this book is not true or we are not Christians.” It has been truly said that is passing from the New Testament to the Roman Catholic Breviary, you pass from light to darkness.
Papal Rome assimilated the image worship of pagan Rome. Temples dedicated to heathen deities were taken over and rededicated to St. Peter, St. Paul, etc. Venus was changed to the Virgin Mary. The image of Christ replaced Jupiter.
WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE SAY OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM?
Does Scripture allude to Roman Catholicism? If the reader will follow the next five or six pages with his Bible opened at Revelation 17, he will find it difficult to see how it can refer to anything else. Let us pick out a few items, and compare them with Roman Catholicism, and we shall find they tally one with another, leaving us in no doubt that Revelation 17 refers to Roman Catholicism, and to nothing else.
We begin with an invitation:
Here we have introduced to us, in symbolic language, a woman, characterised as “the great whore.” The next verse sets forth the enormity of her sins. She is accused of having committed fornication with the kings of the earth, and that the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the intoxicating wine of her fornications.
The writer James tells us what spiritual fornication consists of, the Spirit of God taking this terrible carnal sin to express the Divine detestation of the Church seeking the alliance and friendship of the world. Scripture uses strong language:
It is perfectly well known that Rome has ever sought to dominate the nations, has aimed for political power as well as spiritual. At this moment the Pope is the Sovereign head of the Vatican city, and reckons himself higher than the reigning sovereigns and presidents of the world. His pomp and palaces are utterly unlike the lowly Jesus, who had not where to lay His head in the days of His flesh. Roman Catholicism is the only professing Christian body that sets out for political power, the better to enforce her dogmas and claims on the nations. Rome clearly is guilty of unabashed spiritual fornication.
Does not the great whore sit on many waters? Is Catholic, which means universal, not the proud name she takes to herself? Does she not boast of having adherents in every part of the world, especially represented by millions of worshippers in Europe and the Americas? There is no other professing Christian body that can claim such a following.
We are told this great whore is full of names of blasphemy. The Pope dares to call himself the Vicar of Christ, the Light of the world, the King of glory, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, a title that belongs alone to our Lord. We have already enumerated some of the blasphemous names given to the Virgin Mary, who is called by Romanists the Mother of God, Advocate of sinners, Refuge of sinners, Gate of Heaven, Most Faithful, Most Merciful. Are there not titles in this list that belong to the Lord alone?
That this is so is illustrated by the following:
The whore of Revelation 17 was arrayed in purple and scarlet. Does this not remind you of the scarlet hat and robes of the Cardinals of Rome, and also of the robes of the Romish priests, purple being a favourite colour with them? Then we read of the whore being decked with gold, precious stones and pearls. You may go to many a shrine and see images of the Virgin and of others all covered with gold, silver and precious stones.
We have heard the story of the Pope in the Middle Ages who was showing St. Thomas Aquinas the splendour of the Vatican, including immense displays of gold, silver and precious stones. Said the Pope with a courtly smile, “You see, Thomas, the Church cannot now say what it said in early times, ‘Silver and gold have I none?’” “No, nor can it say, ‘Rise up and walk’”, was the quick and pointed reply, implying the lack of spiritual power in the Church.
It is interesting to know that the celebrated Italian statesman, Crispi, distinguished between Roman Catholicism and Christianity. In a speech in the House of Deputies he made the oracular statement: “The day is coming when Christianity will kill Roman Catholicism.” We next get a gold cup in the hand of this woman, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications. Not only is Rome notorious for spiritual fornication, but for the scandals of a celibate priesthood, which are too well known to be denied. They are matters of history affecting even the Popes.
We read of Pope Paul III, the contemporary of King Henry VIII:
Next we read in our chapter:
Looking widely at history this can only apply to Rome. Which has been the great persecuting professing Christian body but Rome? Read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs for proof of this. Who has not read of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew?
When the tidings of this terrible massacre of innocent people, for no other crime than that they were Protestants, and had an open Bible, reached Rome, the cannon of St. Angelo was fired in celebration, the city was illuminated, and Pope Gregory XIII went in procession to all the Churches and offered thanksgiving at the shrine of every saint.
Who has not heard of the terrible Inquisition? It was set up in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Bohemia and extended as far as Syria and India. We read:
The number slain by this persecuting body in about 1,200 years is estimated at 50,000,000, giving an average of over 40,000 annually.
Rome is unchanged today. But she dares not go to such lengths today in Protestant lands because of the power of public opinion and of reprisal, but in backward countries which are still fully Roman Catholic you will find the same kind of persecution as of old. We give an instance. Within the last fifty years:
Finally the great whore is seen as sitting on seven mountains. Now we all know that Rome is known as “the city of seven hills,” and this further helps to identify Rome as being portrayed in this chapter. Is it any wonder that the pen of Divine inspiration traces such a terrible description of the great whore?
It has been urged by Romish apologists that the Protestants burned Roman Catholics in the reign of Queen Elisabeth. This is true, but with a very great difference. They were not burned because they were Roman Catholics, but because they plotted against the state and its safety. They were destroyed on the ground of high treason. Romanists cannot point to anything outside their system comparable to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and the horrors of the Inquisition with its thumb screws, its pulleys for dislocating joints, called the corda, the queen of torments; its veglia resembling a smith’s anvil, with spike on top, ending in an iron die, its trap-doors, etc. Romanists in Protestant countries are unmolested in following their religion, as long as they do not infringe the laws of the land in which they dwell.
CAN A ROMAN CATHOLIC BE A TRUE CHRISTIAN?
In answer to this question we would turn the attention of our readers to Revelation 2:18-29, where we get the address to the Church in Thyatira. There we read what was the actual condition of that assembly at the time when the Apostle John wrote. At the same time it is the considered opinion of many students of Scripture that the addresses to the seven assemblies in Asia, besides describing their actual state in the eyes of the Son of Man, give us a prophetical sketch of Church History as it unfolded itself down the ages. When we get to the address to the Church at Thyatira we are struck with the similarity there is between that and Revelation 17, which we have just considered. The similarity is so great that we can only come to the conclusion that the Church at Thyatira prophetically considered, represents the Romish Church.
In this address we read of Jezebel, lurid figure in Old Testament history, calling herself a prophetess, seducing the servants of the Lord to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. The threat is made that she would be thrown into a bed of tribulation with her guilty paramours unless she repented. We have no hesitation in tracing the Romish Church in this description.
There is one verse in this address that will answer the question, Can a Roman Catholic be a Christian?
Here are two qualifications made: (1) Such as do not hold “this doctrine.” (2) Such as are ignorant of the subtlety of Satan. In other words, any Christians found in the Romish fold are Christians, not because of the system, but in spite of the system. If Satan has sought to destroy Christianity by covering paganism with a thin veneer of Christian teaching, thank God there is in that thin veneer something of the Word of God, which He can graciously use to the blessing of souls. Difficult as it is to get hold of the Word of God in Romish circles, still they outwardly acknowledge the Scriptures, and have at least the Douay Bible in their midst. They teach the Deity of the Lord Jesus, His gracious Manhood, His atoning work on the cross, and then spoil all this with their dogmas that so largely contradict the simplicity of the Gospel, and smother it under their ornate ritualism, their services largely conducted in the Latin tongue, not understood by the common people.
Yet in spite of all this God works in souls, and we are assured there are a number of sincere Christians in the Romish system.
We have testimony as to this from the dark middle ages. We are indebted to the late Mrs. Frances Bevan for translations of many beautiful hymns dating from pre-reformation times, hymns which speak of the heart-breathing desires of love, and adoring worship of the Saviour from many a lonely Christian scattered up and down the land.
She drew attention to the hymns of:
Gertrude, the Nun (1256-1330);
Dr. Johann Tauler (1291-1361);
Heinrich Suso (1295-1365);
and of others. She wrote:
We will now give just a line or two of the poetry of these eminent Christians, in spite of their being brought up and surrounded by the paganised superstition of Romanism.
Take the case of Gertrude the Nun:
“Lord, not through works of righteousness,
The works that I have done,
But through the glory of Thy grace,
The merit of Thy Son.”
Not a trace of Roman Catholicism in these beautiful lines.
Here is a verse from Heinrich Suso:
“For ever through endless ages,
Thy cross and Thy sorrow shall be,
The glory, the song and the sweetness
That makes heaven heaven to me.”
Not a word about the Virgin Mary and the countless mediators of Rome. The poet sees “Jesus only.”
Dr. Johann Tauler wrote of those led by the Spirit of God:
Here we have deep and spiritual ministry with no taint of Romish superstition in it.
We remember walking with a friend in Ireland some years ago. He pointed out an old countryman, walking a few yards ahead. He said, “Quicken your steps and catch up with that old man. He has never been to a Protestant place of worship in his life, but talk to him and you will be surprised at his knowledge of the Bible.” We quickened our steps, and were soon talking to the old man. He quoted Scripture freely in a most edifying manner, showing a deep spiritual knowledge of the Word of God. We could only rejoice in meeting a brother in Christ. But alas! he was a very great exception to the rule of complete ignorance of the Bible among Romanists. If only the Bible were freely circulated in popish lands, many would be delivered from Roman Catholic superstition.
One last word. We have quoted a good deal from Catholic Belief, a Roman Catholic Manual, blessed by Cardinal Manning. It evidently is meant to help Protestants to become Roman Catholics, for five pages are devoted to explaining how a Protestant should apply to a Roman priest, and the necessary steps taken for admission. It is not surprising that in this book things should be put in such a way as is calculated to tempt Protestants. The dark side of popery is kept well in the background. All looks more or less fair and reasonable. We have known Roman Catholics being most charming to Protestants, who in other days would have harried them to the Inquisition, and would today, we are assured, if it were in their power.
There are twenty pages in this Manual headed by the words, Justification by faith alone. This looks very familiar and attractive. Is this what the Roman Catholics teach, Protestants might well ask in astonishment? We will give a closing extract from one of these pages.
If the reader has plainly grasped the clear meaning of Scriptures scattered through these pages, he will see the subtlety of the above extract. Rome takes back with one hand what she professes to give with the other. Where is “Justification by faith alone” in this quotation? We look in vain for it. It heads the chapter, but it is not in the text.
The strong command of Scripture reads plainly: